Nowadays, it sometimes seems like going to a professional sporting event is as much about everything off the field as it is on it: concessions, souvenirs, cheerleaders, blaring music, the jumbotron and more.
On Sunday, the NBA’s New York Knicks tried to change that. For the first half of the team’s home game against the Golden State Warriors at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks played no music over the loud speakers, showed no promotional videos on the scoreboard and had no dancers on the court during timeouts.
The result was an eerily quiet atmosphere. On the scoreboard, the team displayed a message reading, “the first half of tonight’s game will be presented without music, video, or in-game entertainment so you can experience the game in its purest form. Enjoy the sounds of the game.”
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By comparison, this is what the arena sounded like in the second half, when things returned to normal.
On social media, the move was met with widespread acclaim, as hardcore basketball fans lauded what they saw as a move to remove the bells and whistles and keep things nice and simple.
However, for a move intended to restore basketball to its “purest form,” the decision fell flat with the people you might think would most appreciate it: the players themselves.
New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis said he found the sensation of playing in a quiet arena “weird.”
Porzingis’s teammate, Courtney Lee, said the move hurt the Knicks by taking away their home court advantage and robbing the team of “energy.” However, the Knicks, one of the worst teams in the league, actually led the Warriors, the league’s best team, by one point at the half, only to fall behind and lose in the second half. Lee, however, said there was no connection.
“Imagine if we had that energy (in the first half)? You'd rather have that.” Lee said, per ESPN.
Outspoken Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green was blunt when asked his opinion, saying the idea was “trash” and that it ruined the rhythm of the game.
Reigning MVP Steph Curry was more diplomatic in his response to reporters when asked about the idea.
“"It was weird," Curry told ESPN. "It was like back in middle school warm-up games where it's just you and the teammates ... there's no music or entertainment whatsoever, so it was definitely different. I read the sign on the scoreboard and they wanted to see fans enjoying the game in its purest form. That's a great way to put it.”
Curry did not play well in the first half, hitting just 31 percent of his shots, and the Warriors as a team were not much better, shooting 36.2 percent on all field goals. The Knicks, meanwhile, shot 43.9 percent.
It is unclear whether the Knicks will repeat the experiment in the future, though many observers noted that given the team’s poor record, it might make sense for a more successful team to attempt the feat next.